Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Fantasy Football Dispute No. 5299-T: Court Upholds Trade but Requires Pre-Payment of Next Year's Entry Fee



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Index No. 5299-T

Date Rendered: Nov. 18, 2009

League Type: Keeper

Dispute: Trade Review

Authoring Judge: Marc Edelman




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The Court of Fantasy Football is faced here with the question of whether to uphold the trade of Wes Welker for Donald Royal and Earl Bennett. The trade was made by two teams, each seemingly out of playoff contention. The league's entry fee is $500/club.

General Rules for Upholding a Fantasy Football Trade:

The general rule of the Court of Fantasy Football is to uphold any fantasy football trade that reasonably benefits both teams. See Big Red Rockers v. Big City Bombers, Index No. 101 (August 14, 2004).

In examining whether a team derives some benefit from a trade, the standard requires the Court to consider not only the quality of the players involved, but also the context of the trade. See generally Team Anadrol v. Vegas Baby & Flathead Yankees, Index No. 955-C (Nov. 4, 2007). The surrounding context includes factors such as team rosters and the current standings. See Commissioner v. Parkstarz & Fuall, Index No. 5877-T (Nov. 12, 2009).

The Proposed Trade:

Here, the proposed trade has Send It In! (3-7, 3 games out of playoff spot) trading Wes Welker (Round 4 WR, 64 catches, 662 total yards, 4 touchdowns despite missing early weeks with injury) to Jameson (4-6, 2 games out of playoff spot) for Earl Bennett (Round 15, 35 catches, 454 total yards, 0 touchdowns) and Eddie Royal (Round 9, 27 catches, 253 total yards, 0 touchdowns).

The League's Keeper Rules:

Given both teams are near mathematical elimination, this trade must be considered in light of the possibility of these teams making further trades before the deadline, as well as league keeper rules, which state as follows:


1.A franchise may keep players that were on the franchise's roster at the end of the previous year. However, in order to keep a player the franchise must give up a draft pick at least three rounds earlier than the player's draft round in the previous year. Players drafted during the first three rounds of the previous year may not be kept.

2. If a franchise wishes to keep two players at the same former draft round then the next earlier draft round must be given up. A franchise may not keep players if there is no legal draft round available. For example, in order to keep two 6th round picks the franchise would have to give up a third and a second round pick in the new draft; or for example, a franchise may not keep two players who were drafted in the fourth round during the previous year because there would only be one draft round, the first, available.

3. Each year, one (1) week before the draft, each owner will provide a list of players as keepers for the upcoming draft. Each owner may save any or all players on the current roster, except of course players drafted in the first three rounds.

4. A player who was not drafted (A free agent) the previous year is assigned a previous year draft round of 15. To keep such a player, a franchise must give up a 12th round pick. Also, the values that are assigned for each player will not change for any reason during the football season. Any drafted player that is cut during the year and picked up later in the year will still maintain their draft round value. For example, if you drafted Warrick Dunn in the 7th round and cut him early in the season and then picked him up later in the season, he will still have a draft round of seven.


Wes Walker's real value is in the possibility of his being re-traded before the deadline--something that will not be difficulty given his talent. In terms of keeper value, Wes Welker, pursuant to league rules, may be protected in exchange for a first round draft pick. However, that is almost certainly not going to happen given that all of the players picked in the first three rounds of the 2009 draft must return to the draft pool at the end of the season.
Bennett and Royal may have an angstrum more keeper value than Welker, but not clearly anything more. While Bennett's strong perfrormance last week might be a sign that he is beginning to click with his old college quarterback in Jay Cutler, one 93-yard game in two years in the NFL is not in itself a strong indicator of anything.

This leaves the court somewhat confused on the merits for this trade. On one hand, Send It In! might be making this trade because of the very slightly higher keeper value in Bennett and Royal. However, without knowing the parties or circumstances, or even whether Send It In!'s level of future commitement to the league, this trade could also be one of the many frauds that take place in fantasy sports called "Swap and Run." Under the "Swap and Run," a team that is already eliminated for playoff contention will trade a player with value for another player that may seem to have a very small amount of value ("token consideration" or "fake consideration" for you lawyers), but in reality just be trying to move assets off his team.

Without any further evidence, this court needs some way to ensure this trade is not a "Swap and Run" but rather that Send It In! is really optimistic about the prospects and keeping Bennett and/or Royal (or at least more excited about them as keepers than of keeping Welker).

Thus, given the low but unavoidbale risk of the "Swap and Run" taking place here, this court will protect against such a fraud by requiring Send It In! to pay a 50% nonrefundable deposit toward the 2010 season should Jameson trade Welker to a contender before the deadline.

Should either party reject this additional term, the trade would be deemed withdrawn.


Based on the forgoing, the proposed trade is upheld. However, given the low but unavoidable risk of the "Swap and Run"fraud taking place here, this court will protect against the risk of fraud by requiring Send It In! to pay a $250 (50%) non-refundable deposit toward the 2010 season should Jameson trade Welker to a contender before the deadline.


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